NASCAR

Gordon wrong but no penalty was right call

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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M.C. from Raleigh, N.C.: NASCAR has just opened the door for some rough driving. They better think really long and hard about penalizing a driver for rough driving after the Chicagoland race. It will backfire, and some other driver will catch the wreath for it. There's no consistency in NASCAR.

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Larry McReynolds: I definitely have mixed feelings, and I try to lay aside any friendships because I think the world of Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. I definitely feel like revenge wasn't an issue. I'm sure we will roll the video from Bristol this weekend, and I guess it's our job to document the on-track mishaps between those two this year. But I really don't think that one has anything to do with the other. Short of something happening to him in the final laps, Gordon was going to win the race. He was much faster than Kenseth, and he beat him back to the throttle. If you spin out someone getting into the corner, then you're obviously trying to wreck them. You're driving in way too deep, and you're attempt is to use the old theory that eight wheels are better than four. But when you look at what happened, it was on the throttle. The video showed that Gordon beat him back to the throttle by three or four car lengths. Obviously, Casey Mears and the No. 42 car played a part in this equation because he was on the high side, and neither Kenseth nor Gordon could move to the high side. Do I think what Jeff did was right? Absolutely not. Did I think it warranted a penalty? I'm not sure because he just beat Kenseth back to the throttle with less than five laps to go. Could he have been a little more patient? Absolutely, because hHe probably would have completed the pass through the next corner. It wasn't like we were on the final lap so I felt bad for Kenseth, who had a great race car. Based on how fast the No. 24 ran him down, he probably wasn't going to win the race.

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Gordon is driving with a vengeance right now with his team on the brink of getting into the Chase for the Nextel Cup. They're starting to be competitive week in and week out. They're running well at race tracks that have been their Achilles heel for the last season or two. If NASCAR thought that his aggressive driving warranted a penalty, then obviously what Kenseth did to Gordon in Bristol warranted a penalty. But neither incident resulted in a penalty. That's all I ask out of NASCAR. Just be consistent. I know that it's hard to be consistent because it's almost like a ball-and-strike call. It's a judgment call, and I know conspiracy theorists are saying NASCAR won't penalize Gordon because they need him in the Chase. I hear all of that, but if he had spun Kenseth really early in the race or he just drove down in the corner until he hit the No. 17 car, I feel like NASCAR would have penalized Gordon. They would have seen the offense and not the number of the offender.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Casey Mears

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